It was just a single line in an inauguration speech given 50 years ago. But Alabama Governor George Wallace’s ‘Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever’ is remembered as one of the most vehement rallying cries against racial equality in American history.
The year was 1963. Civil rights activists were fighting for equal access to schools and the voting booth, and the federal government was preparing to intervene in many southern states. In Montgomery, Alabama, newly elected governor George Wallace stepped up to a podium to deliver his inaugural address.
On the speech’s fiftieth anniversary, Radio Diaries looks back at the story behind those famous words, and the man who delivered them.
In his later years, George Wallace embarked on an apology tour, paying amends to civil rights activists and appearing in black churches to ask forgiveness. In his last election as governor of Alabama, in 1982, he won with more than ninety percent of the black vote.
This story is part of our Audio History Project and was produced by Samara Freemark, with help from Joe Richman, Sarah Kramer, Ben Shapiro, Nellie Gilles, and edited by Deborah George.